Blog 110. Death And Bereavement: Why do some people choose to commit suicide?
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1) Why do some people choose to commit suicide?
This topic is highly sensitive and indeed, complex. And very sad too, for those left behind struggling to find answers.
Tiffanie DeBartolo wrote the following in her book, “How To Kill A Rock Star”:
“Did you really want to die?”
“No one commits suicide because they want to die.”
“Then why do they do it?”
“Because they want to stop the pain.”
And this is often exactly why some people choose to commit suicide – to stop the pain. Once again, when emotional issues aren’t dealt with or healed, they can deepen, until a person feels so trapped and overwhelmed, that they begin to feel that they just cannot cope anymore.
Sometimes, this happens if what was experienced in childhood was very stressful and painful. It could’ve been one event, or a series of events or indeed, totally different events that if not addressed, can become buried deep. This is especially true, because childhood has to be lived and dealt with. As a result, difficult issues get buried so we can continue going to school, learning and so on.
But also, a child cannot take out their feelings or aggression against their caregivers as they need them for survival. As a result, anger and so on, can get suppressed and buried. And if this is not addressed at some point, it can get taken out on oneself later on, instead of those who hurt us.
Also, these feelings can occur as a result of what was said to a child, and if repeated over and over again, it may become part of the child’s painful self-belief about themselves. This could then grow into a massive problem further down the line, as career and relationships fail and so on.
We now know that our childhood shapes who we become. And no matter what – we remember everything either consciously or unconsciously. We may have forgotten exactly what happened or we may think that it wasn’t too serious and that as adults we should just get over it. The reality is that we don’t just get over things. All that we experience or what we saw or what we felt or what we were told about ourselves – everything stays with us, unless we choose to heal and let it go. But unlike what is often believed, feelings don’t just go away – because the body stores the memory. Then once adulthood is reached and although things may seem okay – eventually the memory can get triggered. Once this happens, it can emerge via various methods as the body tries to alert us to this ‘thing’ niggling away at us. And if it’s not addressed the problem may keep on becoming more uncomfortable and painful until it is finally healed – or not.
In same cases facing and dealing with what needs healing might prove too difficult and as Carl Jung once said, “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.”
Gary Zukav explains this further on page 48 in his book called, ” The Seat Of The Soul”. In summary he writes that, if anyone is not able to live their life able to reflect, or if they are unable to ask deeper questions, then they may awaken one day to emptiness and powerlessness.
And if they also have not been able to make sense of their childhood, it may result in the wearing of various masks that allows them to appear that they’re on top of things and coping. But eventually it usually all catches up on us, either physically or emotionally. But how this manifests can differ from person to person.
Sadly, it is often the sensitive ones that try to look like they’re coping, who try to put on a brave face and we who may actually look okay most of the time. But without professional help, trying to make sense of it all can become too much. This is particularly evident with men who find sharing their vulnerabilities very hard, especially if they grew up being told to stop crying and to ‘man up’. As a result, they too can start feeling like they’re trapped and that there’s just no way out. And this is how depression begins to creep in, until things become too much, leading to an eventual paralysis as the body slows down and finds itself unable to cope. This is when it becomes too hard to get out of bed and carry on with normal life.
Finding a solution can seem unattainable and eventually, feeling they are a burden or having no reason to live, may then result in a life taken.
And interestingly enough, what is often evident is that those who commit suicide often also present a very low sense of self-belief or self-esteem. Many report that they somehow don’t feel they deserve to live, or indeed feel they are worthy of their family or their success – even though they may have made a lot of money and so on. This is because the feeling comes from within, resulting in a stifling feeling of being trapped with no way out.
A good example of this is during a financial recession or a dip in the economy: If someone has lost money, their job or indeed, if they’ve had to declare bankruptcy then facing their family and friends with the shame and dreadful news may just be too much to ask. Negative and destructive feelings may start whirring in their heads and no matter how irrational – if they feel they’re to blame for the irredeemable mess they find themselves in, they may start considering committing suicide.
This decision could start with bouts of depression with emotions becoming tied in knots, and trying to figure it all out alone, may seem just too complicated. This can result in feelings of hopelessness which may result in suicide becoming the only solution.
This can also be preceded by possible feelings of rage, aggression, an increased use of alcohol or drugs, a withdrawal from activities and family, sleeping too much or too little and this can be accompanied by finding ways of trying to kill themselves.
However sometimes what someone is going through, could be kept well hidden. Although they may start giving their possessions away or they may start saying goodbye to certain people, when they finally choose to commit suicide it can leave survivors and family members utterly shocked and confused.
Because people may seem emotionally together, they may even seem like they’re coping, but we all know that people don’t always reveal everything about themselves and some things or feelings are kept secret, especially if partners and children are involved.
Furthermore, what happens in childhood could lead to inner shame and fear carried around for years – that we are not good enough to be loved or cared for, that we are bad and need to be punished. And as Brené Brown once said, “Vulnerability is lead by anxiety, which could lead to shame, which often leads to disconnection.” This is certainly true for those who choose to commit suicide.
However, Brené Brown also said that, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as hard as spending our lives running away from it.” This is an excellent insight and sadly, so true especially if it leads to a loss of a life rather than facing life.
But sometimes what we experience is buried and unconscious. It may be deeply suppressed. As a result, we may not entirely be aware of what we’re going through and that we can get help through therapy.
But for those left behind they may never truly understand the reasons because I suspect sometimes the person committing suicide may not know either: Sometimes feelings can remain buried and if they’re not accessed they won’t be healed either. Because if they had healed, suicide would have stopped being an option.
2) Suicide before adulthood:
Worryingly, we are beginning to realise that many sites on social media are encouraging young people to self-harm and that this is one of the causes of them committing suicide.
Young adults are vulnerable and susceptible to suggestion. And many young adults don’t have enough experience to know that what everyone feels as a young adult – passes. As a result, if they are struggling to create an identity or feel unsure of themselves, then any negative outside influences can have a detrimental effect. The doubts, the overwhelming emotions and so on, could of course, be provoked by social media sites suggesting self-harm and suicide as an option, especially if they lack enough ‘likes’. And sadly, if a young adults are accused of being too fat, ugly or unpopular this could not only be crippling to their self-esteem, it can also add to their stress and anxiety. Sadly, most do not have enough self-belief to rise above their critics. Consequently, they may get bullied into taking their life – especially if they are told it’s a ‘cool’ thing to do.
This is why more attention and awareness need to be placed on helping young adults understand their hormones and what emotions can be experienced and indeed, what it means to be a teenager and then too – what adulthood requires.
Thankfully however, the tech giants are now being seen as publishers and consequently, they are now being nudged to take better responsibility in order to start regulating these dangerous online sites. Facebook and Instagram etc, may also now be fined heavily if found to be allowing the distribution of any site inciting suicide, self-harm and so on.
But more has to be done by parents, school teachers and indeed schools themselves to help monitor young adult’s online activity and encouraging them to speak about their feelings or if they are being bullied.
However, many young adults don’t have the emotional language and are also afraid to speak up because it is hard to tell others that they’re being accused of being fat or ugly – especially if they believe it to be true.
We therefore have to be more aware that these sites exist, and that there are people out their bullying people to take their lives.
3) More University Students Are Choosing To Take Their Own Lives Too:
It now seems that university may not be for everyone. Many find the transition from school to university too difficult. And many are finding that they’ve got too much time on their hands – because they may only have a few lectures each week. This can leave them sitting alone in their room with their books for hours on end. And if they’re not disciplined enough to apply themselves to study, then this could prove fatal, especially if there are underlying mental health issues, insecurities, self-esteem issues, and so on. It is therefore so important that parents and lecturers monitor students and if there is any doubt that someone is not coping they need to step in and help sooner rather than later.
But also, if a student doesn’t want to let a parent down, or if the expectations are too high for them to succeed then this could be another contributing factor as to why some choose to commit suicide.
Either way, for a parent to lose a child or young adult via suicide is one of the worse things that can ever happen, because they WILL spend the rest of their lives either questioning or blaming themselves – and this process can damage their relationships, their careers and indeed their lives in general, if they too don’t seek help.
4) A chemical imbalance:
Unfortunately, it is also known that when there is a chemical imbalance, suicide can be an option as the brain feels trapped and suicide becomes the only option. This can occur if someone is on medication and usually under psychiatric treatment. For whatever reason, the medication or a hormonal imbalance tips the balance – yet the patient or doctor may not know why. When this happens it can be very sad and painful for the families involved.
Once someone has committed suicide it can leave those left, wondering for years what they could’ve done to prevent it. This could lead to feelings of anger and betrayal, and possibly a deep longing to have that one last conversation so as to understand why. But coming to terms with the fact that this will never happen can be very hard, and indeed the hardest thing any parent or partner will ever have to face.
John Green wisely wrote that, “They say time heals all wounds, but that presumes the source of the grief is finite.” And he was right. Grieving a suicide is very hard. Take your time. And don’t ever feel that you need to hurry the process up. It will only surprise you if you do.
And I am so, so sorry if this is something that you’ve experienced. It is a dreadful loss. However I urge you to find solace by joining a support group. Why? Because trying to grieve on your own can be too much to ask.
But whoever you may have lost, hopefully they will be, “forever remembered and forever missed.”
© 2019 Deidré Wallace All rights reserved.
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